OMA Cofounder Zoe Zenghelis Has First Solo Show in U.S. at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Art
The name often associated with OMA is Rem Koolhaas. But the influential Dutch architecture firm was actually cofounded in 1975 with three other people: illustrator Madelon Vriesendorp (also Koolhaas’s wife from 1971–2012), architect Elia Zenghelis, and artist Zoe Zenghelis, the latter having her first solo exhibition in the U.S. this spring at Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh. “Fields, Fragments, Fictions,” running March 26 to July 24, encompasses 70 Zenghelis paintings and drawings categorized into four areas of practice, including her work in OMA’s early urban projects, such as the firm’s 1975 proposal for the Hotel Sphinx in Times Square, and as co-creator and teacher of the Color Workshop at London’s Architectural Association School of Architecture. That’s where her former husband Elia also taught and had Koolhaas as a student (the four first collaborated together on a 1972 architectural competition submission held by Casabella magazine). Zenghelis employed what she called a “sun-drenched palette” on her OMA colleagues’ aerial perspectives; similar colors inform the independent art practice she launched in 1985 and continues today, at 84 years old. In fact, she created several of the paintings in the CMOA show within the last five years. “My paintings became influenced by my architectural experiences,” she says, “but they work differently as conceptual views of my own world of images. They poeticize the urban environment.” Her approach to artmaking—abstract geometries, assemblies of forms, eruptive hues—and her cultivation of play, discovery, and spatial imagination has played an integral role in the shaping of architectural representation.
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